All In Stable’s Willcox Inn, winner of
the $100,000 Arlington Classic, the first leg of the Mid-America Triple on May
28, returns to the local oval in pursuit of that series’ second leg, the Grade
II $200,000 American Derby on Saturday.
The American Derby will be run at
a mile and three-sixteenths over Arlington’s
world famous turf course and serves as the final local prep for the Grade I
Secretariat Stakes, which will be held Aug. 13.
The race is one of three major
stakes that comprise the track’s Million Preview Day program. In addition
to the American Derby, the 11-race card includes the Grade III $150,000
Arlington Handicap and the Grade III $150,000 Modesty Handicap. As an
added bonus, the 1-2-3 finishers in the American Derby will have their entry
and starting fees waived for the Secretariat should they elect to run in that
event next month.
A son of Harlan’s Holiday,
Willcox Inn stalked the pace in the mile and a sixteenth Arlington Classic
before sweeping to the lead approaching the furlong marker and drawing off to a
2 ½-length tally as the 3-2 betting choice. The Mike Stidham-trained colt
has never missed the board in three turf trips including a third-place run in
the Grade II Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs last
November. Robby Albarado, who guided the sophomore to his Arlington
Classic victory, will once again be in the irons.
Prominent among those set to
line-up against Willcox Inn is Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Derby Kitten. The son
of 2004 Secretariat Stakes winner Kitten’s Joy comes into the American Derby
off a third-place finish in the $200,000 Lone Star Derby in Texas
in his most recent start on May 30. Prior to that, the Mike Maker charge
ran 13th in the Grade I Kentucky Derby, presented by Yum! Brands
after winning the Grade III Lexington Stakes over Polytrack at Keeneland.
On the board in six of eight turf starts, his lone grass score came when he
broke his maiden for a $75,000 tag at Gulfstream
Park n January.
Julien Leparoux has the call.
Grant Heider, John Kuehl &
David Conway’s Lil Bit O’Fun is a four-time winner on grass including the
$200,000 Oliver Stakes at Indiana Downs last out on June 15. The gelded
son of Langfuhr is trained by Tom Proctor and will be ridden Saturday by
Overseas invader Cannon Hill, who
races for Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone, arrived earlier this week from Ireland.
The son of Holy Roman Emperor is trained by that country’s leading conditioner
Dermot Weld. Weld is no stranger to the American Derby, having saddled Pine
Dance to capture the race in the year 2000, Evolving Tactics in 2003 and Simple
Exchange in 2004. Patrick Smullen, who rode the 2003 and 2004 victors,
will make the overseas journey to partner with Cannon Hill on Saturday.
Other of note in the American
Derby include William Farish & Skara Glen Stable’s Close Ally and Team
Block’s Suntracer. The former, a son of Giant’s
Causeway, was runner-up in the Grade II American Turf and the Lone
Star Derby in his last two starts. He is trained by Neil Howard and will be
ridden by Corey Lanerie.
The latter, a Chris Block-trained
son of Kitten’s Joy, ran second in the Arlington Classic last time out after
previously winning a pair of turf allowance races. Shaun Bridgmohan is
Completing the field (with riders
named) are: William Stiritz’ Zoebear (Junior Alvarado); Ashby Thoroughbreds’
Chalice (James Graham); Mark Jensen’s Forest Mouse (Perry Whetstone); and
Homewrecker Racing Stable’s Twojohnsandajack (Florent Geroux).